Identity Theft & the IRS

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes nationwide, and tax refund fraud caused by identity theft is one of the biggest challenges facing the IRS.

Taxpayers can fall victim to identity theft involving their tax returns in several ways. One example is when identity thieves try filing fraudulent refund claims using another person’s stolen identifying information. Innocent taxpayers are victimized because their refunds are then delayed.

Ways to protect yourself from identity theft

Be alert to possible tax refund fraud if you receive an IRS letter stating that:

  • More than one tax return was filed using your SSN
  • You owe additional tax, refund offset or have had collection actions taken against you for a year you did not file a tax return
  • IRS records indicate you received wages from unknown employers

Tips to protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft:

  • Don’t carry your Social Security card or any documents that include your Social Security number.
  • Don’t give a business your SSN or ITIN just because they ask. Give it only when required.
  • Protect your financial information.
  • Check your credit report every 12 months.
  • Secure personal information in your home.
  • Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and anti-spam/virus software, and changing passwords for internet accounts.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone, through the mail or on the Internet unless you have initiated the contact or you are sure you know who you are dealing with. The IRS does not call people and ask for their information. They always communicate by mail first.

We recommend filing your taxes early, this way you reduce the chance of someone filing a return on your behalf. Taxpayers that fail to report several years of taxes are easy prey for the criminals, so make sure to always be current on your tax filing.

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